Raiders

Raiders

The Raiders are a team in transition.

They’re scheduled to leave for Las Vegas in 2020, when a state-of-the-art stadium should be ready for Raiders football.

There’s some uncertainty where the Raiders will play before then. They’ll definitely host the Denver Broncos at Oakland Coliseum on Monday night, but it’s anybody’s guess what’ll happen after that.

That’s because the Raiders (and the entire NFL) are being sued for antitrust violations and breach of contract. The Raiders pulled a $7.5 million lease offer to play at Oakland Coliseum after the lawsuit was levied on Dec 11.

Now they’re searching for a place to play, and must pick one by February at the latest. It still could be the Coliseum, though Monday’s game is being treated like it could be the last game ever there. AT&T Park seems attractive, and Levi’s Stadium also could keep the Raiders in the Bay Area. They’re looking outside it as well, and their options have been discussed extensively over the last week.

This story isn’t another one about that. It’s about how all this moving about could impact the Raiders as a free-agent destination. Athletes like stability, after all.

That shouldn’t prevent quality veterans from signing on the dotted line. There might be some other reasons — players don’t love rebuilding projects, and Jon Gruden might not have the same attraction, to name two — but all that moving isn’t that big a deal. Here’s why:

 

The checks still cash

Veteran free agents care about money as much as anything. That isn’t a slight. Everyone does, in most every line of work. If the Raiders are offering the most, or can combine an equal offer with a better role, a player’s gonna wear silver and black.

The Raiders should have roughly $81 million in salary cap space heading into the offseason. Some of that will be earmarked for draft picks, but there’s tremendous flexibility to sign players Gruden wants. That includes big-ticket items the Raiders can afford. Players will take a quality offer all the way to the bank.

The practice plan hasn’t changed

While it seems likely the Raiders play somewhere in the Bay Area next year — it’s hard to imagine homebody Gruden putting his team on a plane every week — the team plans to practice at its recently renovated Alameda training facility. Players would rent/big homes around the East Bay, where they would spent the vast majority of time no matter where they play.

The Vegas timeline has been fixed, so there will be no surprises for players about where they’ll live. It’s only about where they’ll play, and that doesn’t matter much as long as the competition’s high and the field’s the same size.

Money’s about to go farther

The Raiders have a year left in California, where the state’s highest earners get hit with a 13 percent tax. That’s a big cut, to be sure.

There’s no state tax in Nevada, meaning money signed this offseason will go much farther in 2020 and beyond, where the Raiders will be featured in the Silver State. That could be an attraction to those signing long-term contracts, and worth more than playing in a new venue.

New guys won’t know the difference

Players who already have spent time in silver and black attest to the passion found while playing at the Coliseum, an old building with some annoyances that locals consider quirky charms. Someone choosing the Raiders might appreciate Levi’s Stadium comforts, or AT&T’s location right in San Francisco.